Baking & cooking with an enthusiastic amateur
After finishing this dinner, my roommate’s first response was “You need to share this with the world.” Lentils can be quite good with a lot of different ingredients, but apparently bacon is magic. Despite less than one strip of bacon per serving, each bite of lentils was packed with bacony flavor, savory, rich, and satisfying. The couscous was a light accompaniment with its own subtle flavor and the delightful texture of almonds, and a bit of pita bread gave us an opportunity to indulge our love of bread just a bit.
I’m also happy to say that I didn’t need to go out to buy any new ingredients for this recipe. I love couscous (which while it’s still a carb, is slightly better for you than pasta), and I have recently deemed lentils a staple, so both were on hand. For the bacon, I took one of the small, portioned-out packages of it that live in my freezer, so I could get a bacony flavor with less than $1 worth of meat for the whole meal.
For a little extra color, I served some strawberries on the side. I diced them and added a bit of sugar, splash of riesling, and dash of lemon juice, and let them rest in the fridge for an hour before serving. It was very easy and delicious, but really any fresh fruit makes for a good side or dessert!
Just as a quick note, make sure to read your lentils package before making this recipe. Different lentils may have varying cooking times, and may require different amounts of water. I’ve found some lentil recipes call for 2 parts water to 1 part lentils, but when I tried that last time with my lentils, they quickly absorbed all of the water and started burning on the bottom after 15 minutes! If in doubt, there’s no harm checking them part of the way through and adding a little extra water if needed.
Bacon Lentils with Couscous
2 strips bacon (close to 2 oz)
1/4 of a small sweet onion, diced
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup lentils
2 cups water
1/4 tsp coriander
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp salt
Couscous & Pita
1/2 cup couscous
3/4 cup water
1 tsp olive oil
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ginger
1/8 tsp turmeric
1 tsp fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted dry toasted sliced almonds
1 small (5”) whole wheat pita bread
1 tsp olive oil
Cook the strips of bacon in a nonstick saucepan over medium heat until crispy. If they splatter a lot, put a lid on during cooking. Remove bacon from the saucepan and set aside. Add the onions to the grease in the pan, sauteeing over medium heat for 6-8 minutes. Add the garlic and reduce heat slightly; cook for another 1 minute. Pour in the 2 cups of water, lentils, coriander, and black pepper; bring to a boil. Do not add the salt yet!
Crumble in the bacon. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered, for 40 minutes. If there is still a bit of water in the pan upon completion, remove the lid and simmer, stirring often, for another 5 minutes or until the remaining liquid has been absorbed or evaporated.
When the lentils are nearing done, bring 3/4 cup of water and 1 tsp olive oil to boil in a saucepan. Add the couscous, salt, ginger, and turmeric and stir well; remove from heat. Cover immediately and let sit for 5 minutes. Fluff the couscous with a spoon or fork and mix in the parsley and almonds.
Meanwhile, brush the pita bread with 1 tsp olive oil and place in the toaster oven for a couple of minutes, toasting until just starting to brown. Slice into thirds.
Add 1/2 tsp of salt to the lentils and mix well before serving. Serve with couscous and a wedge of toasted pita.
Makes three servings.
Cost per serving: $0.88
Calories per serving: 320